Wanderers - The Highveld Lions claimed a famous victory on Friday as they beat the star-studded Mumbai Indians by nine runs in the Champions League T20 opener on Friday.
ScoreboardMumbai were chasing 187 for victory and for most of the innings it seemed the no-name Lions would come unstuck against the most famous cricketer in the world - Sachin Tendulkar.
It was very much the interns against the seasoned veterans as the Lions' inexperienced attack was battered and outclassed by Tendulkar, who scored 69 off 42 balls, before Shane Burger bowled him in the 15th over. At that stage Mumbai needed 56 off 33 balls, with seven wickets in hand and, with JP Duminy in fine form, they still looked in charge.
Big-hitting West Indian Kieron Pollard then came in and bashed 19 off nine balls to further solidify the visitors' position, but Lions seamers Burger (4-0-33-2), Ethan O'Reilly (4-0-25-0), Robbie Frylinck (4-0-32-0) and Zander de Bruyn (3-0-28-1) then engineered a dramatic turnaround as the last five overs saw Mumbai score just 44 runs and lose three wickets.
Burger netted the wickets of Tendulkar and Pollard, bowling both of them, and O'Reilly conceded just seven runs in the 16th over. The young fast bowler had been desperately unlucky not to have taken Tendulkar's wicket with his second ball as he trapped the Indian great plumb in front. Umpire Asoka de Silva's not-out shocker looked to have cost the Lions dear, before a top-class comeback by a team that showed they are a tremendously resilient bunch in last season's Standard Bank Pro20.
Frylinck hit the blockhole superbly as his last two overs cost just 13 runs, while De Bruyn kept a cool head as he conceded just eight runs and dismissed Duminy (30 off 23 balls) in the penultimate over.
An opening stand of 83 off 61 balls saw Tendulkar and Shikhar Dhawan (32) tear into the bowling. But left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso, who had been given a torrid time on his welcome to the big stage, then had Dhawan caught at short third-man, the batsman seemingly finding life so easy he tried a reverse-sweep, to his demise.
But Tendulkar batted on in another marvellous innings by the ageless veteran, finding the gaps with tremendous mastery as he collected nine fours.
Duminy was also most pleasing to the eye as they shared a third-wicket stand of 42 off 22 balls, and Pollard also thrilled the crowd with his pair of sixes, there being little hint of the excitement to come.
Earlier, Lasith Malinga's brilliant bowling had cost the Highveld Lions a major total as he restricted the hosts to 186 for five.
The Lions nevertheless posted a most competitive score thanks to Jonathan Vandiar, who showed his rare talent as he plundered a career-best 71 off 48 balls, and Neil McKenzie, who once again proved the priceless value of experience as he finished the innings with a sublime 56 not out off just 30 deliveries.
The Wanderers is playing fast and true and Malinga's figures of three for 33 in four overs was a tremendous effort, the Sri Lankan star's famous slingshot yorkers being as dangerous as ever.
He seemed to have derailed the Lions innings in a fabulous 17th over that saw him dismiss Vandiar, belting a drive low to deep extra cover, and Frylinck, yorked for a single, reducing the hosts to 147 for five. But amidst a tremendous din at the Wanderers, McKenzie gave the innings a furious conclusion, almost doubling his score in the last three overs with a flurry of pulls and drives.
Mumbai Indians captain Tendulkar had earlier won the toss and elected to bowl first, with what a good total at the Wanderers in September at night being uncertain.
The Lions made a sluggish start as they scored 39 runs in the opening six powerplay overs and lost two wickets. Vandiar managed to get his log of wood down beyond the popping crease a split second before Alviro Petersen, the captain being run out for 12 after confusion over a single and good work by Dhawan.
Richard Cameron was sent up the order to provide some long-handle but was not effective as he scored a run-a-ball nine before skying a slog-sweep off left-arm spinner Ali Murtaza.
But Vandiar's nimble footwork and clean striking was having increasing effect as he notched an impressive 39-ball half-century. But with Malinga also dismissing Vaughn van Jaarsveld (13), the Lions would have been well short of a competitive total if McKenzie had not come in and shared a fourth-wicket stand of 64 off 37 balls with Vandiar.
Tendulkar called on eight different bowlers in the innings, with Murtaza the other bowler who was on target more often than not, finishing with one for 28 in his four overs.
Ryan McLaren took the new ball but struggled with his line and bowled just the single over for four runs, although he also conceded four leg-byes. Fellow South African Duminy bowled a single over for 13 runs, Vandiar and Van Jaarsveld feasting on his part-time off-breaks.
Highveld Lions: AN Petersen (capt), JD Vandiar, VB van Jaarsveld, R Cameron, ND McKenzie, Z de Bruyn, TL Tsolekile (wk), R Frylinck, S Burger, AM Phangiso, E O'Reilly
Mumbai Indians: SR Tendulkar (capt), S Dhawan, AT Rayudu (wk), R Sathish, JP Duminy, KA Pollard, R McLaren, Harbhajan Singh, Z Khan, SL Malinga, AG Murtaza